Chief Fire Officer Commendations

'Babbs Mill' firefighters receive Chief Fire Officer Commendations; colleague honoured for off-duty attempt to save woman's life

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Published on 25 September 2023

Several West Midlands firefighters have been honoured for their bravery, skill and operational excellence.

Chief Fire Officer’s commendations have been presented at West Midlands Fire Service headquarters in Birmingham.

Those recognised included firefighters who responded to Babbs Mill Lake, Kingshurst in December, where four boys fell through ice. Tragically, they all died.

Wayne Brown, our Chief Fire Officer (CFO), praised the recipients for their professionalism in the line of duty.

He said: “For so many people, not least the families of the boys who died, the incident at Babbs Mill Lake was a tragedy beyond words. They will forever remain in our thoughts.

“Every day, our staff respond to incidents in extremely challenging circumstances. They often go above and beyond what we expect of them when on duty and, on occasion, when they’re not working.

“The work of all who responded was focused on finding and saving the boys. I am proud to commend those firefighters who gave their all at the scene. We only wish the outcome could have been different.

“It is also an honour to recognise the efforts of a colleague who attempted to save a woman’s life while off-duty.”

Two rows of firefighters, standing and seated, in smart uniforms, some wearing medals

Commendations for rescue swimming at Babbs Mill Lake, December 2022

Shortly after 2.30pm on 11 December 2022, West Midlands Fire Service responded to a water rescue incident at Babbs Mill Lake, Kingshurst. Four children had fallen through ice and hadn’t resurfaced. Firefighters receiving the commendation for rescue swimming immediately entered the freezing water to locate the children, despite not having the thermal personal protective equipment required. They worked tirelessly in freezing conditions. The four children were located and brought to land where efforts to resuscitate them began.

Crews continued to search the lake for several more hours, amid fears that two more children were in the water. This turned out not to be the case.

Commended in recognition of their significant contribution to rescuing the four children, at risk of losing their own lives:

Watch Commander William Atwell, Sheldon Fire Station

Crew Commander Matthew Hall, Sheldon Fire Station

Firefighter Neil Bate, Sheldon Fire Station

Crew Commander Peter Nicholls, Sheldon Fire Station

Firefighter John Dean, Technical Rescue Unit, Bickenhill

Firefighter Joel Hannon, Technical Rescue Unit, Sutton Coldfield

For providing CPR at Babbs Mill Lake, December 2022

Commended for their significant contribution to attempting to save the lives of the four children by performing CPR:

Watch Commander Ian Smith, Ward End Fire Station

Crew Commander Majid Mohammed, Ward End Fire Station

Watch Commander Paul Shields, Technical Rescue Unit, Wednesbury

Firefighter Andrew Gumley, Sheldon Fire Station

Firefighter Balbir Johal, Technical Rescue Unit, Bickenhill

Firefighter Andrew Spry, Sheldon Fire Station (off-duty at the time of the incident)

Firefighter Nadia Bacciochi, Ward End Fire Station

Firefighter Paul Richards, Ward End Fire Station

Firefighter Kate Murphy, Technical Rescue Unit, Bickenhill

Chief Fire Officer and a firefighter, both in smart uniforms and wearing medals, stand in front of a bronze statue of a firefighter

Firefighter Wayne Samuels, Dudley Fire Station

In June 2023, Wayne Samuels was off duty and travelling in his car when a pedestrian flagged him down and explained his wife wasn’t breathing.

Wayne immediately entered a property and commenced CPR, managing to successfully resuscitate the woman, before calling an ambulance.

Wayne made several calls to the casualty’s family members, remaining at the scene and providing care for the shocked husband.

Very sadly, the woman passed away on the way to hospital.

Firefighter Samuels is commended for his off-duty actions.

Photos: Neil Kingsbury